A loss left too late for a charge for the Caledonia Gladiators saw them fall to the Sheffield Sharks 82-72 at the Ponds Forge.
Shooting woes follow the Gladiators after the loss versus the London Lions in England for the BBL Trophy finalists.
The B. Braun Sheffield Sharks are just off a four-point loss in the BBL Trophy semi-finals against the Cheshire Phoenix.
In the last meeting between the two sides, the Gladiators took home the W in early February, a six-point win capitalised by 19 points from Al Durham.
A tumultuous first quarter, and game, was kicked off with the Sharks opening the scoring with two free throws from Devearl Ramsey after Aljami Durham picked up his first of two early fouls after just 15 seconds.
Sheffield then went on a quick 8-0 run, forcing coach Gareth Murray into a timeout.
Prince Onwas then scored two free throws of his own to open the scoring for the Gladiators.
Fahro Alihodzic scored six of the Gladiators’ 12 points in the opening quarter, getting a steal and an assist.
At one point in the first ten minutes, the Gladiators were down as much as 19 but managed to get it to 13 with a 25-12 score going into the second quarter.
— British Basketball League (@BBLofficial) March 10, 2023
The second quarter was a much better showing from the travelling Gladiators, winning the quarter 21-19 – still went into the half down 11.
Alihodzic carried his strong performance from the first to the second instantly as he opened the scoring with a dunk before Jeremiah Bailey slammed one of his own in the next possession.
But with a better offensive showing, inconsistencies were still on show from Caledonia with Sheffield still showing up and attacking all cylinders.
At their best, the Gladiators managed to get the score down to an eight-point game multiple times in the ten minutes but that was pushed back to 11 by the half end, it would have been 13 had it not been for Al Durham driving through traffic and making a heavily contested lay-up.
Shooting woes and failing to get into a rhythm was the story of the first half, 35% from two-point range paled in comparison to the Sharks’ 66%.
The biggest run for Caledonia in the first half was two six-point runs, one in each quarter. The team would have been looking to find that form more often in the second half after trailing 44-33.
The third quarter got off to a promising start, Fahro Alihodzic converted an and-one but, after that, the inconsistencies rose again as the Sharks found their first-quarter groove.
The Gladiators failed to get the match within striking distance in the third quarter, the closest the game was was eight points early in the third before trailing thirteen as the buzzer rang.
Durham had a good third quarter, scoring six points ahead of Alihodzic’s five.
In the end, the game was too short for the Gladiators to get closer, late in the fourth the team rallied together and made it a four-point game but went cold as the Sharks took it to a ten-point game as the fixture drew to a close.
In true gladiator fashion, the team didn’t give up, closing large deficits such as the Sharks’ 22-point lead in the third quarter.
Three players managed to reach 15 points for the Gladiators – David Sloan (46% shooting) & Fahro Alihodzic (50%) but Jeremiah Bailey scored the most with 17 points on a low 37% shooting. The wing also grabbed eight rebounds and got five assists.
Durham had 10 points of his own too, the only other Gladiator to reach double digits.
Saeed Nelson was the games leading scorer, however. The guard scored his 19 points on 45% shooting but managed to go a perfect eight from eight at the free throw line.
The Gladiators managed to lead the game in rebounds and assists, an impressive tally of 39 and 21 respectively.
The Sharks shot better from everywhere, an impressive 22/23 (95%) from the charity stripe, 6/16 (37%) from three-point range, 21/38 (55%) from two and an overall 27/54 (50%) from the field.
For the Gladiators, it was an impressive 17/21 (80%) from the free throw line but just 3/12 (25%) from three, 23/51 (45%) on two-pointers and 26/63 (41%) from the field.
Overall, a poor loss from the Gladiators as they pick up their 12th loss in the BBL Championship this season but the Gladiators would feel like they could have got something more if the game was longer but the Sharks were the better team.
BBL | An MVP performance off the bench from @FahroAlihodzic! 👏 Catch him again this Sunday!
— Caledonia Gladiators (@Cal_Gladiators) March 10, 2023